Posted by: travelrat | November 21, 2014

Wireless in Wales

Wireless Museum

Denbigh: 23rd September 2014.

It’s probably a sign of advancing age when you go into a museum, and see artefacts you not only recognise, but actually used ‘back in the day’. So it is with the ‘Wireless in Wales’ museum in Denbigh, which is in a couple of rooms in the Welsh Language Centre building.

For the youngsters, I’d better explain what ‘wireless’ means here. Before the days of wireless keyboards, mouses, TV remote controls and the like, it was simply a synonym for ‘radio’.

Its location is appropriate, for radio did play a part in the revival of the Welsh language … even though broadcasts in that language started relatively recently. I can remember a time when even regional accents weren’t heard on the airwaves (except in ‘The Archers’!)

The museum is based around the collection of the late David E Jones, an avid collector of radios, and a champion of the Welsh language. The collection doesn’t go back quite to the days of ‘Come here, Mr, Watson! I want you!’ but almost … there are several ‘cat’s whisker’ crystal sets here. And, of course, sets of a bygone age …. bearing stuff like ‘Hilversum’ and ‘Lyons PTT’ on their dials. I wonder if these stations are still going? Because you can’t pick them up on a modern VHF set.

I particularly noticed the old stuff that worked off rechargeable ‘wet’ batteries. This was of particular interest, for we had one at home. And, it was from Mr. Adams, who brought a fresh one around every week and took away the old one for recharging, that I got my first interest in radio.

On those old radios, you could trouble-shoot, too. Generally, it was just take the back off, and check for loose wires, and see if there were any thermionic valves not lit, and change them if there were. Nowadays, the only action you can take is try a new battery, and if that doesn’t work, toss it.

There’s also lots of information and interpretative displays … and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic curator on hand if these don’t tell you what you want.

I found it extremely interesting and absorbing … but, in my early days in the Royal Air Force, I was a radio operator/mechanic. Nevertheless, I think anyone would gain something from a visit, too.

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Responses

  1. We forget that ‘wireless’ meant ‘voice transmission without wire’ for much of the first half of the twentieth century – all with thermionic valve technology. The ‘HMV dog’ in the centre of the picture is intriguing. I know them well. When I was a kid, my father had two of them, which he eventually sold to a collector. They were worth quite a bit, as I recall.

    • Thanks for your comments, Matthew! I wondered about the HMV dog, too. I wondered if it was something that HMV sold you or gave to you, or part of a point-of-sale display. Of course, I only thought of it after I’d left, and didn’t think to ask the curator.


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